Why did Japanese immigrants assimilate so well?

You wouldn’t think that Japanese could assimilate if you were in a predominantly Japanese area of Bangkok or Seoul, and people said exactly the same thing about first generation Japanese in Hawaii, California and Brazil, e.g. “Oliveira Viana, a Brazilian jurist, historian and sociologist described the Japanese immigrants as follows: ‘They (Japanese) are like sulfur: insoluble’.”

Now, however, 61% of great-grandchildren of Japanese immigrants in Brazil have at least some non-Japanese blood, 60% of Japanese-Brazilians are Roman Catholics (only 25% being adherents of a Japanese religion), and the third generation, however, are most likely monolingual in Portuguese. Similar things are true in other countries, for example church going in Japanese immigrants and their descendants in Hawaii and California being much higher than continued belief in Buddhism, let alone Shinto.

I put both the early and more recent histories down the Japanese desire to blend in with society, because in the early days for most people that society would have been just their immigrant community but sooner or later the society to blend in with would be seen (consciously or unconsciously) as the local community.

Most info above from Wikipedia, but all speculation entirely my own.

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Why did the Japanese go to Brazil?

… home of the largest population of Japanese outside Japan.

The main answer is that unlike most other places, the Brazilians let the Japanese in:

“At first, Brazilian farmers used African slave labour in the coffee plantations, but in 1850, the slave traffic was abolished in Brazil. To solve the labour shortage, the Brazilian elite decided to attract European immigrants to work in the coffee plantations. The government and farmers offered to pay European immigrants’ passage. The plan encouraged millions of Europeans, most of them Italians, to migrate to Brazil. However, once in Brazil, the immigrants received very low salaries and worked in poor conditions, similar to the conditions faced by the black slaves: long working hours and frequent ill-treatment by their bosses. Because of this, in 1902, Italy enacted Decree Prinetti, prohibiting subsidized immigration to Brazil.

The end of feudalism in Japan generated great poverty in the rural population, so many Japanese began to emigrate in search of better living conditions. In 1907, the Brazilian and the Japanese governments signed a treaty permitting Japanese migration to Brazil.

Japanese immigrants began arriving in 1908, as a result of the decrease in the Italian immigration to Brazil and a new labour shortage on the coffee plantations.

In the 1930s Japanese industrialisation had significantly boosted the population. However prospects for Japanese people to immigrate to other countries were limited. The US had banned non-white immigration, on the basis that they would not integrate into society; these laws were specifically targeting the Japanese. At the same time in Australia the White Australia Policy prevented the immigration of non-whites to Australia.”

From an absolutely fascinating page on Wikipedia here:

Japanese Brazilians

Why is The Girl from Ipanema so popular in Japan?

 I often go to Excelsior Cafes because their Assam tea is the closest thing to English “builders’ tea”, but if I’ve forgotten my walkman one version or another of that song (my most hated ever) will drive me out of there.
I was guessing it must be included in some Japanese film,TV ad and/or TV programme,but my missus tells me it all started with a version by Ono Risa, a Nikkei (ethnic Japanese) singer, in the 80s